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<<  -- 2 --  Maria Nockin    EXHILARATING COMEDY

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Arizona Opera presented a relatively traditional performance of the nineteenth century piece in Tucson on 19 February 2006. The colorful and evocative scenery by Paul Shortt was originally conceived for the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the pleasingly exotic costumes were from Malabar. Marc Verzatt's stage direction was musically motivated and he moved the plot forward with pertinent action. The result was an easily grasped, exhilarating comedy.

The vocal star of the evening was English tenor, Barry Banks. An excellent bravura singer, he performs with many of the world's greatest opera companies. He tossed off Lindoro's florid runs with clarity, precision and richness of tone while proving that he also has good comic timing.

Sandra Piques Eddy (Isabella) and Barry Banks (Lindoro) in the Arizona Opera production of 'L'Italiana in Algeri'. Photo © Tim Fuller
Sandra Piques Eddy (Isabella) and Barry Banks (Lindoro) in the Arizona Opera production of 'L'Italiana in Algeri'. Photo © Tim Fuller

Sandra Piques Eddy is a beautiful lyric mezzo-soprano and she fulfilled the role of Isabella with style and grace. Like the tenor, she proved to have finely honed comedic ability and she sang her music with sultry tones. Her voice is well trained and she has a good command of stagecraft.

Hugh Russell as Taddeo, Francois Loup as Mustafà, Lisanne Norman as Elvira and Amanda Polychronis as Zulma in the Arizona Opera production of 'L'Italiana in Algeri'. Photo © Tim Fuller
Hugh Russell as Taddeo, Francois Loup as Mustafà, Lisanne Norman as Elvira and Amanda Polychronis as Zulma in the Arizona Opera production of 'L'Italiana in Algeri'. Photo © Tim Fuller

The role of Mustafà calls for a first class basso-buffo. Veteran performer Francois Loup played it with ease. An energetic actor, he made the most of every opportunity for spirited comedy and he sang with deep, robust tones. Hugh Russell was a strong voiced Taddeo with a finely detailed characterization. Andrew Gray was a formidable Haly and Amanda Polychronis a honey-voiced Zulma.

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Copyright © 12 March 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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